Whilst customer relationships clearly work differently in the two environments, the strategy of adopting both as complementary presences allow a brand to engage in two distinct models firstly reacting to customer interest via the brand site and secondly to thoughtfully participate in a customer’s experience when they are already engaging with social media. By engaging through social media, the brand benefits from the provision of relevant customer information and illustrates increased transparency, flexibility and the desire to understand their customers.
In the UK for example, Facebook is the most popular social network as it has twice as many users as YouTube, 17 times more than Twitter and is the second most visited website in the country, behind Google. Therefore, it is the marketing channel that provides businesses with the greatest opportunity to reach out directly to consumers in what has rapidly become somewhat of a natural habitat for thousands.
Whilst many brands are now strengthening their customer relationships through social media, many have yet to take advantage of the opportunity, through focussing on broadcasting content to users, rather than engaging them in dialogue.
Marketing strategies can no longer rely on audiences returning to a brand time and again and Clinton Cards is one such B2C business that is rapidly developing its social media strategy alongside its website communications. The UKs leading high street greeting card retailer recognises that the more choice of touch points offered to a consumer and the varied communication techniques that each one brings, the greater the chance for a sustained relationship.
Pete Goold, managing director of Punch Communications, said: When Facebook users are visiting the site many millions of times each day, B2C brands should be asking themselves if they are participating with those consumers as effectively as possible , in order to engage their interests and further their relationship. Sadly, so many are not fulfilling their potential to reach out, start on-going dialogues and create highly engaged social networking communities in order to further brand awareness and loyalty.
By using the top 100 retail websites as a sample group, Hitwise found that each brands Facebook fan equated to an additional 20 website visits (over a 12 month period). This illustrates that if brands successfully participate in the space in which their audience already convenes, as well as through their brand website, there are plenty of rewards to be reaped; in the UK alone, 500 million hours are spent on Facebook each month.
Pete added: There is little doubt that one-size fits all approach is no longer a sufficiently sophisticated strategy for digital marketing. Where brands are able to meaningfully participate in social media experiences, rather than simply push messages out, social communities tend to respond extremely favourably, resulting in disproportionately high positivity and loyalty. In short, its simply about going back to the old marketing truism of tailoring the message to the individual, which remains universally beneficial and is now more possible than ever before.